Trainspotting Live


Reviewed by: Michelle Eagleton

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

There’s no denying that Irvine Welsh’s cult novel Trainspotting made a huge mark on the Nineties generation. His book charting the antics of drug fueled youths in Scotland hit the shelves in 1993 with the Danny Boyle film coming three years later, making an overnight star of Ewan MacGregor. Trainspotting Live, currently on tour, takes the story to another level and whether you are fans or newbies to the tale of Renton, Tommy, Sick Boy and Begbie it is an immersive experience like no other.

The King’s Head Theatre and In Your Face Theatre are at the helm of this ground breaking production which has made Manchester’s former bus quarters, the Mayfield Depot, its home for their run in the city. The vast venue is the ideal location for the raw material on display with its exposed brickwork and abandoned warehouse feel adding to the atmosphere and giving the impression of you entering an underground rave from the start.


Trainspotting Live CREDIT Geraint Lewis

Convention goes out of the window as soon as you enter…Glo bands replace tickets and there’s no seat reservations, the choice is yours where you perch for the 75 minutes duration of the play (I’d avoid anywhere near the exposed loo as ‘the worst toilet in Scotland’ scene gets a little messy). If you are easily offended then this maybe isn’t the show for you…nakedness is a plenty, as is the swearing and sex. Don’t get me wrong though it’s all in context and is played out with such raw energy and realism from the five-strong cast that you are seriously swept away with them on an emotional rollercoaster that sees you witness their chemical highs and the subsequent sombre come downs.


Trainspotting Live CREDIT Geraint Lewis

Greg Esplin delivers a powerful performance as Tommy, Renton’s best mate who suffers the consequences of the drug scene. His descent from fun loving chappy to distraught junkie is mesmerising to watch.

The last time Trainspotting Live toured there was a cast of seven which meant there were two females sharing the roles on offer, with the cast cut down the weight falls on to the only woman in the line-up Lauren Downie to step up to the plate. Downie rises to the challenge and is outstanding in her plethora of roles each one carefully crafted, especially Renton’s Mum which she plays with such painstaking desperation.


Trainspotting Live CREDIT Geraint Lewis

It would be wrong not to mention all of the actors who make up the cast as they are a hugely talented bunch. Oliver Sublet (Begbie), Michael Lockerbie (Sick Boy) and, stand in for press night, Dean Gribble (Renton) put in stellar performances that are fizzing with realism.

Each performance of Trainspotting Live is unique as it very much relies on the reactions of the crowd who have turned out to see it. Part of the fun is watching people’s faces as they witness some of the shocking scenes on display and the humorous interaction between the actors and the audience is priceless. The show manages to balance the darkest of themes with lighter shades of humour and the sheer speed at which the productions runs echoes the film perfectly.

Don’t ‘choose something else’…choose Trainspotting Live before it heads off to its next station.

Runs at Mayfield Depot until 21st April

Tickets available via



Trainspotting: Live

Trainspotting 1

Credit: Geraint Lewis

It’s not often that a production leaves me wanting to go straight back and see it again but that is how I felt after watching Trainspotting: Live at The Lowry this week. The incredibly immersive offering, based on the cult Irvine Welsh novel, is punchy, powerful and fizzing with gritty realism. Co- directors Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Greg Esplin have delivered a genius piece of modern theatre which gives audience members the full ‘Trainspotting’ experience as soon as they walk into the auditorium.

Conventionality goes out of the window from the start – there’s no seat numbers on your tickets, instead you are given a glo-wristband where the colour denotes where you’re placed for the show. When you step inside the auditorium the action has already begun and all seven actors that make up the cast are dancing their tits off, glo sticks aloft and banging music playing at full blast. It’s like you are in an underground rave and the electricity and pumping bass lines hit you like a bolt!

Either side of the action are raised seating areas which mean you face each other side on and can witness every hilarious reaction to the crowd participation. It’s not the most comfortable way to watch a show but, as it’s just 75 minutes straight through and hugely transfixing, the numb posterior doesn’t detract you from the action. One thing to note seating wise though is if you are placed by the mid seating toilet then prepare yourself for a soaking as the infamous ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene becomes all too real.

Trainspotting: Live is certainly not for the fainthearted or the easily offended but if you have read the cult novel or seen the film you should be fully aware of what to expect. The beauty of this production is that every night of the run will bring with it a new element of audience related ad-libs, depending on the crowd, as the cast find new ways to offend and delight in equal measure. There’s full frontal nudity, needles, soiled sheets and even a used condom hurled out into the audience!

Credit: Geraint Lewis

The young Scottish cast should be applauded for the physicality of their performances, each one giving all of their energy to the roles, visibly sweating their way through scenes. It’s hard to pick out anyone from such a strong team but a special mention must go to Gavin Ross who plays the central character, Renton. Ross gives a stellar performance and revels in the part that Ewan McGregor made his own. Together the seven strong ensemble bring to life all the key characters and scenes alongside superb use of lighting, sound and a script which is every bit as edgy as the screenplay, immersing you into the dark world of drug addiction from the off.

20 years after Trainspotting hit our screens and asked us to ‘choose life’ 2017 saw the release of the follow up, T2, introducing a whole new generation to this powerful and evocative story. Trainspotting: Live just enhances this following further and I’m sure in its own right will become a cult classic amongst theatre goers and fans alike.

Rest assured you will not be disappointed in this breathtaking, rollercoaster of a show so get your tickets fast and don’t miss it if it stops at a station near you anytime soon.

Runs at The Lowry, Salford until Sat 11th June

*Best availability for tickets, Thursday 8th June*